Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners (“Quinbrook”), a specialist global investment manager focused exclusively on renewables, storage and grid support infrastructure investment, today announced that it has acquired a consented 350MW Solar + Battery storage project, located in Kent, UK (“Project Fortress”). Quinbrook expects to commence construction of the project in the first half of 2022.
Once operational, Fortress is expected to be the largest single site solar PV installation in the UK, and is more than three times the size of the UK’s next largest consented solar PV project. The addition of battery storage to large scale solar generation at Fortress is designed to provide critical support to improve security and reliability for the UK power grid and help continue the UK’s sustainable drive to Net Zero.
A Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (“NSIP”), Fortress was granted development consent by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in May 2020. Fortress is forecast to generate enough renewable power each year to meet the power needs of c. 100,000 UK homes and to help reduce carbon emissions by 164,450 tonnes in its first year of operations alone. Fortress includes an extensive landscape and biodiversity management plan, designed in collaboration with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust, RSPB, and the Environment Agency, that will add more than 3.5km of native hedgerow screen planting across the site and seek to deliver a net gain of 65 percent in biodiversity.
Project Fortress follows closely behind Quinbrook’s massive Gemini Solar + Battery Storage Project in Nevada, US, which is currently under construction. Developed by Quinbrook portfolio company Primergy Solar, Gemini is a US$1.1 billion, 690 MW solar PV and 380 MW battery storage system and is believed to be the largest co-located solar PV and battery storage project in US history. Gemini is expected to host over 1.8 million solar modules and generate enough renewable energy to meet the residential power demands of the entire City of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Primergy Solar also recently announced the 600 MW Hot Pot and Iron Point solar + battery storage projects in Nevada which are proposed to replace the retiring North Valmy coal-fired power station. Quinbrook’s Nevada projects together with Fortress bring the current solar + battery storage portfolio to well over 1.6 GW of solar PV and 1 GW of battery storage capacity representing over USD 2.5 billion of project capital investment for the US and UK renewables markets.
Rory Quinlan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Quinbrook commented, “We believe Project Fortress is a landmark transaction on many fronts and represents a new frontier in UK solar teamed with large scale battery storage. We have been immersed in large scale solar and storage in the US for many years and we can apply our significant experience in project design and equipment selection to ensure Fortress becomes the new benchmark for renewables that support the UK grid rather than challenge it.”
Investment in Fortress continues the Quinbrook Founders’ 20-year history of investment in UK renewables and grid support projects. Quinlan added: “Fortress is an excellent example of the scale of new renewables impact the UK needs to build not only to rapidly decarbonize the UK power sector, but also to meet the 13 percent increase in electricity demand that the Ten Point Plan is expected to create by 2030. The acute power price volatility and security of energy supply concerns we have seen in the UK these past weeks highlight how critical new capacity investment in the UK will be to deliver the energy transition without further disruption. We plan for Fortress to play its part in helping to improve energy independence for the UK.”
Quinbrook Applies Its Strong ESG Capabilities to Project Fortress
Quinbrook plans to apply several progressive innovations at Fortress for real-time measurement and reporting of carbon emissions in the UK power grid and the 24/7 tracing and tracking of the renewable provenance of the power sold to the project’s offtakers. Using advanced blockchain and other applications, Quinbrook aims to deliver a complete carbon reporting service to assist customers with tracking progress against their Net Zero goals and their compliance obligations with TCFD and related carbon reporting.
Quinlan added, “Fortress provides a timely opportunity to showcase the application of advanced technologies that are critical to verify the carbon reductions available to our customers from Fortress. We think this is destined to become the standard for all energy supply projects in the years ahead.”
Quinbrook will also work with local stakeholders to help secure measurable economic benefits from the development for the local community. To achieve this, Quinbrook will focus on opportunities for the involvement of local companies in the construction and operations supply chain; the ability of local residents to access employment opportunities associated with construction and operation; and the ability for research organisations to use Fortress to enable technical research and innovation in the renewable energy sector. Preliminary analysis by Quinbrook indicates that during its expected lifetime, Fortress could support approximately 1,000 jobs1 (direct and indirect) and contribute in excess of GBP 100 million2 in local socio-economic contributions from lease payments to landowners and local taxes.
Mike O’Donnell, CEO of the London Collective Investment Vehicle, an investor in Quinbrook’s Renewables Impact Fund, commented, “Fortress is an excellent example of the type of project London CIV sought to invest in when we made an allocation to Quinbrook from our LCIV Renewable Infrastructure Fund.”
Quinbrook Focuses on UK ‘Net Zero’ Transition
In the UK, Quinbrook is focusing on opportunities arising from the accelerating energy transition to achieve ‘Net Zero’ emissions from the country’s energy supply system. With ageing coal, gas and nuclear plants being retired in the UK, significant long-term capital investment in new renewables supply infrastructure, battery storage, smart grid and related businesses will be needed. Quinbrook views the need for new supply and grid support infrastructure as an opportunity to deliver measurable ESG impact from asset creation and optimisation which it considers fundamental to any ‘high impact’ focused investment thesis.
Quinbrook aims to protect and enhance the value of invested assets for the long-term benefit of its investors through the proactive identification and management of the ESG aspects of those investments. However, Quinbrook’s ESG objectives extend beyond this; to job creation, improved governance, greater community engagement, and reduced environmental impacts from the daily operation of portfolio assets.
Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners (http://www.quinbrook.com) is a specialist investment manager focused exclusively on renewables, storage and grid support infrastructure and operational asset management in the US, UK and Australia. Quinbrook is led and managed by a senior team of power industry professionals who have collectively invested c.USD 8.2 billion equity in energy infrastructure assets since the early 1990s, representing a total enterprise value of c.USD 28.7 billion or 19.5 GW of power supply capacity. Quinbrook’s investment and asset management team has offices in Houston, London, Jersey, and the Gold Coast of Australia. Quinbrook has completed a diverse range of direct investments in both utility and distributed scale wind power, grid support, biomass, battery storage and ‘smart grid’ projects in the US, UK and Australia.
1 Jobs: Includes direct and indirect jobs, solar pv total FTE 6/MW CEBR / Solar powered growth in the UK / prepared for solar trade association, storage and grid support 10,000 man hrs / 20MW (20VAR)
2 Business rates and lease payments expected during 35-year asset life for 350 MW solar and 150 BESS
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